How the Body of Christ and the Holy Scriptures are most Necessary to the Faithful Soul
THE DISCIPLE. Dearest Lord Jesus, how great is the joy of the devout soul who feasts at Your banquet, where the food set before it is none other than Your very Self, its only-Beloved, desirable above all the heart's desire! How deeply I long to pour out my heartfelt tears in Your presence, and like the devoted Magdalen, bathe Your feet with my tears. (Luke 7:38: John 12:3) But where is my devotion? And where this flood of holy tears? Surely, in Your presence and that of Your holy Angels my whole heart should burn and melt for joy! For here You are truly present with me in Your Sacrament, though veiled beneath another form.
I could not endure to gaze on You in the full glory of Your Divinity, nor could the whole world bear the splendour and glory of Your Majesty. Therefore You bear with my frailty, and conceal Yourself in this holy Sacrament. Here I truly possess and adore Him whom the Angels adore in Heaven; (Heb. 1:6) I, as yet, by faith alone, but they by sight and unconcealed. (2 Cor. 5:7) I must rest content with the light of true faith, and so remain until the day of endless glory dawn, and the shadow of figures pass away. (Solomon 2:17) When that which is perfect is come, (I Cor. 13:10) the use of Sacraments will come to an end, for the Blessed in glory need no sacramental healing. They enjoy the presence of God for ever, and view his unveiled glory ; (I Cor. 13:12) transformed from glory (2Cor. 3:18) into glory of His own unsearchable divinity, they taste the Word of God made man, as He was from the beginning, and as He abides eternally. (I Pet.1:25)
When I consider these wonders, even spiritual consolations become wearisome, for so long as I cannot see my Lord in His unveiled glory, I value as nothing all that I can see or hear in this world. Lord, You are my witness (Rom.1:9) that nothing can comfort me, nor can I rest content in anything created, but in You alone, 0 my God, on whom I long to gaze for ever. But this is not possible for me in this mortal life, so I must cultivate true patience, and submit all my desires to You. Your holy Saints, who now share Your joy in the Kingdom of Heaven, during their lives waited the coming of Your glory with great faith and patience. (Heb.6:12) What they believed, I also believe; what they hoped to enjoy, I hope to enjoy; and whither they have arrived, by Your grace, I hope to arrive also. Meanwhile I will walk in faith, strengthened by the example of the Saints; the holy scriptures shall be the comfort and mirror of my life, and above all Your most holy Body shall be my especial remedy and refuge.
I now realize that there are two things especially necessary to me, without which this life of sorrow would be unbearable. While in the prison-house of this body, I acknowledge my need of two things - food and light. You have therefore given me in my weakness Your sacred Body to be the refreshment of my soul and body, and have set Your Word as a lamp to my feet .( Ps.119:105) Without these two, I cannot rightly live ; for the Word of God is the light of my soul, and Your Sacrament is the bread of my life .(John 6:35) One might describe them as two tables, set on either side in the treasury of holy Church. The one is the table of the holy altar, having on it the holy bread,( I Sam.21:4) the precious Body of Christ; the other is that of the divine law, that enshrines the holy doctrine, teaches the true faith, and unerringly guides our steps even within the veil (Heb 6:19: 9:3) that guards the Holy of Holies.
0 Lord Jesus, Light eternal, I thank You for the table of holy teaching that You have given us through Your servants the Prophets, Apostles, and other teachers. (Eph.4:11) O Creator and Redeemer of men, in order to manifest to the whole world the depths of Your love, You have prepared a great Supper, (Luke 14:16) at which You offer us, not the Lamb of the old Law, but Your own most holy Body and Blood to be our food. In this sacred Feast, You give joy to all the faithful, granting them to drink deeply from the Cup of Salvation, (Ps.23:5) which holds all the joys of Heaven, while the holy Angels share the feast with us, but with even deeper delight.
Oh, how high and honourable is the office of priests, to whom is given power to consecrate with sacred words the Lord of majesty, to bless Him with their lips, to hold Him in their hands, to receive Him in their mouths, and to communicate Him to others. How clean should be the hands, how pure the lips, how holy the body, how spotless the heart of a priest, into whom the Author of all purity so often enters. From the mouth of a priest, who so often receives the Sacrament of Christ, nothing should issue but what is holy, true, and edifying. Let his eyes, that so often look on the Body of Christ, be simple and chaste. Let his hands, that handle the Creator of Heaven and earth, be pure and raised to Heaven. (I Tim.2:8) For to priests in particular are addressed the words of the Law, 'Be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.( Lev.19:2)
Almighty God, let Your grace assist us, that we who have undertaken the office of priesthood may be enabled to serve You worthily and devoutly in all purity and with a good conscience. And although we cannot remain in such innocence of life as we ought, yet grant us sincerely to lament our sins, and to serve You henceforward with greater devotion, in the spirit of humility and with good will and intention.
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